Tom Bowman

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.

In his current role, Bowman has traveled to Syria as well as Iraq and Afghanistan often for month-long visits and embedded with U.S. Marines and soldiers.

Before coming to NPR in April 2006, Bowman spent nine years as a Pentagon reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Altogether he was at The Sun for nearly two decades, covering the Maryland Statehouse, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Security Agency (NSA). His coverage of racial and gender discrimination at NSA led to a Pentagon investigation in 1994.

Initially Bowman imagined his career path would take him into academia as a history, government, or journalism professor. During college Bowman worked as a stringer at The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. He also worked for the Daily Transcript in Dedham, Mass., and then as a reporter at States News Service, writing for the Miami Herald and the Anniston (Ala.) Star.

Bowman is a co-winner of a 2006 National Headliners' Award for stories on the lack of advanced tourniquets for U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2010, he received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of a Taliban roadside bomb attack on an Army unit.

Bowman earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vermont, and a master's degree in American Studies from Boston College.

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When General Jim Mattis resigned from the Trump administration, he argued it would be inappropriate to criticize a sitting president. Well, that has now changed. The former secretary of defense writes that the president is a threat to the Constitution and says we are, quote, "witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership." Mattis criticized the president's threat to use the military against protesters and said the president has spent years trying to divide us. His words were published in The Atlantic.

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In cities across the country, police in riot gear have clashed with demonstrators protesting the deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans, and others have been seen taking a knee. NPR's law enforcement correspondent Martin Kaste joins us now to talk about the varied responses by police.

Hi, Martin.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Hi.

At the end of June, several thousand National Guardsmen from 15 states will descend on Fort Irwin in California's Mojave Desert for two months. The Army is already gaming out how to keep them healthy and able to train during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Inglewood Army recruiting station is tucked into a strip mall in a gritty part of Los Angeles. Its neighbors are a liquor store, fast food outlets and palm trees. Inside are the familiar posters: smiling soldiers with the slogans "Army Strong" and "Army Team."

Sergeant First Class Nathan Anslow runs this station. He points to something new just inside the door. A stack of questionnaires — coronavirus screening forms. It's the first stop for potential recruits.

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The Army has announced it is again shipping recruits to basic training, following a two-week pause that was put in place to make sure COVID-19 mitigation measures were operating at all four Army training centers.

U.S. Army Capt. Cedric Pollard strolls into the business district of Tal Tamr, Syria, like a mayor at election time.

"Hello, how are you," he says, greeting everyone who comes out to see the Americans. Polland, a former school teacher from Orlando, has a commanding presence with a friendly demeanor. Kids dart along beside him, pulling his sleeve to get his attention. His soldiers hand out lollipops.

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Two U.S. officials tell NPR that the Pentagon is expected to send 1,500 troops to the nation's borders with Canada and Mexico to assist Customs and Border Protection operations as the coronavirus death toll tops 1,100 in the United States.

It's early morning in northeast Syria. It's sunny and chilly. Capt. Alex Quataert briefs his soldiers on the day's patrol.

"In the last 48 hours we've had two attacks on critical petroleum infrastructure," he says.

The convoy will visit one of those sites today.

Tens of thousands of guardsmen could be called up to help state efforts to combat the coronavirus in the coming weeks and months, the head of the National Guard Bureau said.

"This could quickly blossom," Gen. Joseph Lengyel told Pentagon reporters Thursday.

At the moment, just over 2,000 members of the National Guard are assisting governors in 27 states, doing things such as helping with testing and transportation. Lengyel said that number could double by this weekend.

There are some 450,000 Guardsmen in the Air Guard and National Guard.

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Updated 8:38 p.m. Sunday ET

The Trump administration is planning to announce on Monday that more than 20 Saudi students receiving military training in the United States will be sent back to their home country, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The expulsions come in the wake of a Pentagon review of the Saudi officer who opened fire last month at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., leaving three young sailors dead and wounding eight others.

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The Trump administration knew it was coming. Iran promised vengeance for the U.S. killing of its top general, Qassem Soleimani. Here's what Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told NPR yesterday.

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And as we said, there have been some significant developments since we recorded that conversation with Ambassador Hook just earlier this evening. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman joins us now to discuss those developments.

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The news started trickling out last night.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: We have hugely consequential breaking news at this hour. Iraqi state TV is reporting that a strike...

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U.S. officials describe a series of airstrikes as retaliation against Iran. American warplanes struck five targets in Iraq and Syria. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that all of the attacks targeted a militia linked to Iran.

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"Shocking and unprecedented," that's how ousted Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer describes President Trump's intervention in the Navy SEALs Trident scandal. Spencer was fired this week over the controversy.

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The Navy is letting three SEALs implicated in a war crimes case keep their Trident pins. These pins, which depict an eagle clutching a Trident pistol and anchor, identify sailors as members of the elite fighting force.

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